Deportation is on the minds of millions of people in the city of Chicago, That is about 183,000 that live their lives day to day fearing that they will be caught by immigration services and sent back to mexico. But there is a hope for this people, it’s called naturalization. Naturalization is the process which a foreign citizen can become a U. S. Citizen. The big problem that is affecting the Latino community is that the process of naturalization can take anywhere between one year to several years. Now this may not seem bad for others, but for many illegal immigrants, one year can be an eternity.
There are many events that can happen in one year that can completely derail an immigrant’s process to becoming a citizen, for example the recent raids committed by the U. S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE as many say, These raids shocked many communities that a majority of the population is illegal, it made families in these communities fear for the worst, the raids angered even more. Many protests were held in solidarity for those that were taken and deported back to their old home. All this happened the previous month. There are many reasons why the naturalization process is both difficult, extensive and expensive.
The fee for the application to start the process of naturalization costs $680 for adults. This is a significant setback since many immigrants today live below the poverty line and have no means to pay that amount. Plus there is still the option of paying for a citizenship lawyer which will add even more to this process. There are many causes why this process could take longer than one year: filling out the application incorrectly could delay the process back months, maybe even years, and even once the application is processed correctly it could take one to one hundred and eighty days to schedule an interview.
The citizenship process is too difficult, expensive and extensive for the average illegal immigrant in the City of Chicago. Furthermore, this issue is important because legalizing immigrants will contribute to this city’s economic and civic life; therefore immigrants need significant assistance in educational and language requirement. This is the best solution because of the fact that an increase in immigrants becoming citizens could increase the amount of revenue that the City of Chicago will receive in taxes.
The naturalization process is a very difficult process that takes years to complete and to study for. To fully understand how difficult this process is, it is best to fully describe the process and it’s steps to becoming a U. S. Overall the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services states that there are Ten steps to becoming a citizen of the United States. The very first step is to determine if the applicant is already a U. S. Citizen, which means if the applicant was born inside the United States or born with parents that are U. S citizens than they are ineligible to for naturalization.
The second step to becoming a Citizen is to determine if the applicant is eligible to become a U. S Citizen, eligibility depends whether or not an applicant has been granted a permanent residence or is over or below the age of 18. The third step is to fully complete the form N-400 that is provided by the U. S Government. In the fourth step the applicant must send the N-400 form to a designated location based on the state the applicant is filling. Along with the amount of money needed to file the N-400, applicants must send in two passport style photos and all the necessary documents.
Next, the fifth step is to schedule a biometrics appointment, only if needed. The USCIS will send an appointment notice along with the date, location and time. The next step,the sixth step, arguably the most important in this process is to complete the interview, the questions that will be asked in the interview have not been released and are not on the USCIS website. After the interview is complete, step seven is to wait to receive a decision from USCIS on the applicant’s form N-400, there are three responses applicants will receive.
There is Granted, where the application was approved and applicants may continue the process. There is Continued, where the applicants may continue the application but need to provided further documentation. The second to last step, step eight is where applicants will receive a notice to take the Oath of Allegiance. Finally, the ninth step is to take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. At the oath applicants will turn in a permanent residence card or green card, and the applicants will receive their Certificate of Naturalization.
There is a tenth step, but it mainly consists of how to understand U. S Citizenship. All together this process is said to take anywhere between less than a year to several years. There have been many accounts where many people have stated their application took years upon years, longer than what would be deemed as the average time taken to complete naturalization. Mexican immigrants are not becoming citizens of the United States. In fact, Mexican immigrants are less likely to actually start the process of naturalization than any other group of immigrants in the United States.
This is a major issue because of the number of Mexican immigrants in the United States, mexicans make up 55 percent of the undocumented in the country. That is a large number, especially if shown how many immigrants are in the United States, which is about 8. 8 million. In an article on ABC Emily Deruy stated,” Pew found that more than 90 percent of Hispanic immigrants who have not yet naturalized would like to. The obstacles, however, are sometimes too overwhelming” (Deruy). It is important to understand this information because it is not the fault of immigrants that they won’t or can’t go through the citizenship process.
The fact that immigrants want to become citizens shows that they are interested in staying in this country and helping it financially. Immigrants want to stay, they want to live here, they are willing to pay taxes and work here for it, which shows how important this country means to them. There are millions of illegal immigrants in the United States, approximately 511,000 in the state of Illinois and about 183,000 in the city of Chicago. Those numbers are staggering, but unfortunately the number of these people that start the process of naturalization is small.
The main issue about this is that there is an underlying reason as to why the percent of immigrants becoming citizens is so small. The issues have nothing to do with idea that these immigrants do not seek to become U. S. citizens because they are lazy or because they plain just down want to. In fact the reasons that many immigrants don’t’ become citizens is not their fault, the process of naturalization is expensive, extensive and flat out difficult for many people. The application alone to start the process of naturalization alone is very expensive.
The amount that the U. S. Citizenship and immigration services ask for the application alone costs $680 (US Citizenship and Immigration Services). It is important to understand the price of this application because not only is this a lot of money for one application, but a majority of immigrants, mainly hispanic immigrants, are either living in poverty or are living near poverty. Since immigrants are willing to take low paying jobs, the amount an immigrant family makes a year leads to greater poverty in hispanic communities.
Citizenship workshops is a major solution to increase the amount of immigrants that will enter the naturalization process and complete it to become a U. S. citizen. In fact in the city of chicago there are already workshops here and there that help immigrants through the process. Citizenship workshops is the solution to end the difficulty of the naturalization process. This solution greatly impacts the lives of immigrants because it helps them personally learn how to handle the interview and how to fill out the application accurately, so as to not cause a delay which could make the process even more tedious.
Workshops greatly addresses the problem because now immigrants have a massive network that is willing to help them out on a process that would be nearly impossible if immigrants were to complete it by themselves. Workshops offer English language classes because of the need to be able to understand english to fill out the application, but also because of the interview and the test that needs to be completed in order to receive citizenship for the United States. Workshops also offer assistance in order to find a job this is very useful to not only just immigrants but for everyone.
Since finding a job as an immigrant is much more difficult because of lack of papers, this resources brings even more reason why citizenship workshops are so useful for immigrants. In a journal article by Elizabeth S. Mahler, a writer for the Harvard Crimson, she recalls her experience of running a citizenship workshop in the City of chicago, “‘Citizenship classes should not be about producing individuals who have memorized answers but about producing individuals, families, and communities who are encouraged and supported in exercising the rights and privileges that they have come to understand exist for everyone. (Mahler). Though it is true that the creation of citizenship workshops throughout the city of chicago produce many individuals that seek to support and exercise the rights that only citizens are granted to in this nation which then transform communities and families, it is still true that funding these workshops would require money that this city could possibly not be able to afford.
In an article by Robert R. Alvarez, a Professor of Ethics from the University of California in San Diego, he writes about his experiences with people that recently just completed the citizenship process and are now citizens, he states, “Every Individual who commented on the (Oath of Allegiance) ceremony was emotionally moved, spoke highly of the presiding judge and describes the event as a major milestone in their lives. ”(Alvarez). The very final step of the citizenship process is to understand what it means to be a U. S Citizen, that all citizens both
Americans by birth and by naturalization, should respect, honor and exercise all the important rights and responsibilities that citizens are granted. In the previous quote, it says that these people that just became citizens, describe their citizenship as a major milestone in their lives, it shows that these immigrants care for these United States, that they are willing to respect all citizens right for Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The solution that proposed is the implementation of citizenship workshops around the chicagoland area, most importantly in communities with the largest population of immigrants.
There are many organizations in the City of Chicago that seek the advancement of chicano communities and lives. The organizations that would run these new workshops would be Istituto de Progreso Latino, located in little village, and the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). These organizations make great strides in Chicago and in Illinois for immigrants There are many ways in which these workshops can be funded, by private funders and by money from the government. Workshops are the best solution for many reasons.
The most notable reason is because they are already being implemented, and they are acknowledged as the reason why the process is much more easier for immigrants. These workshops are easy to fund and are easy to create. Many opponents will argue that the easiest way to create and easier and less time consuming process of naturalization would to just completely rewrite the entire process, unfortunately that solution would require a bill. Now to pass a bill and make it law, would require a lot of time and effort.
The make this bill law, the bill first needs to be introduced, once it has been introduced, it is sent to a committee for further research, after that it reported and debated on the House of Representatives floor, and then voted on. Once all that is completed and the bill manages to make it through, it is now sent to the U. S, Senate and finally to the president to become law. Unfortunately, they way that the country is being run right now this bill would most likely not pass since the republicans hold a Senate Majority.
It is well known that republicans are not in favor of immigrants in the country, so the likelihood would be that this bill would most likely not even make it to senate or even out of the House of Representatives. If a greater amount of workshops were available to the public in the City of Chicago, there will be a greater increase in the amount of immigrants starting the process to become a citizen. Short term effects could be a greater amount of immigrants becoming citizens in a shorter time. But in the long run, this country would actually benefit greatly as a whole.
The economic benefit of immigrants becoming U. S. Citizens is great, it was studied that when an immigrant becomes a citizens their income would increase by an 8. 9 percent, employment rates would rise, and the likelihood that these new citizens will buy a home increases as well. When federal, state and city income tax is combines there could be a surge of $2 billion added into the economy, money that is well needed. As a native born citizen, we never think about our citizenship because we were born into it. So we don’t understand how important it is, we take it for granted.
We are never going to deal with a test that decides our citizenship to our home country. So it is important that you take time to understand the struggle that millions of immigrants are facing right now, and understand the fear that is directly connected to their lack of citizenship which can lead to deportation. I urge you to contact your alderman, your senator, mayor, or Governor to ask for their assistance to create these workshops. I also plead that you volunteer with Instituto del Progreso latino and the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights because every helping hand counts.